goats go to hell

We can be so passive-aggressive. It strikes me funny sometimes. We may believe that glirking* is a sin. So if you glirk you’re a sinner. Or maybe you are a glirk but you don’t practice glirking. If you are a glirk and you don’t feel it is a sin and you don’t confess it and repent, then you are an unrepentant sinner. And we all know that unrepentant sinners go to Hell. But we’d never come out and say to a glirker’s face that he is going to Hell outright. Well… some would and maybe they should be thanked for at least being honest.

If you are lucky you might find a church that is glirker-friendly. But you will have trouble finding a church that allows glirks to participate fully in all the roles of the church. Especially if you are open about your glirkiness.

You won’t be told you’re going to Hell. But you will find yourself on the left.

*I have no idea what glirking means.

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  • All glirkers and non-glirkers should repent of their sin and not be proud of their sin and advocate it.

    The Lord our God says, “who is left to condemn you?” “Now, go your way, and sin all you want.”

  • Christine

    Good of you to miss the point entirely, Steve. We can always count on you for that.

    The cartoon is about telling people they are going to hell. No one is saying that sin is good, or not a problem. No one is telling people to go out and sin as much as they like.

    What is at issue is “what is sin?”, but that’s a dispute not unique to any particular issue. (Ask five Christians what is and isn’t sin and you’ll get six different answers.)

    The issue is, what do you do, or say, or feel or believe, or think when we have these disagreements about what does and does not constitute sin? Do we just assume, with typical arrogance, that we have the exact right definition of sin (making ourselves infallible – and not just for our own lives, but for others’ as well) and tell others they are going to hell (or otherwise exclude them)?

    That’s the issue. So, thanks for completely ignoring it so you can make your obligatory discriminating point so you can feel comfortable in your assumed superiority and remain in denial about any personal culpability. Much appreciated.

  • Christine

    What you are basically saying, Steve, is that no one should be proud of or advocate anything you think of as sin.

    Your position is that not being proud of or advocating anything that Steve Martin thinks of as sin would be just and equitable treatment for all.

    Forgive me if I reserve the right to disagree.

  • Christine,

    You have every right to disagree.

    Just remember it is not me you are disagreeing with. Jesus told her to go and sin no more…not me.

    The Bible is clear on the matter of sin, especially sexual sin.

    But hey, anything goes these days. I’m sure that pleases the Living God.

  • Christine

    Again, Steve… I am not disagreeing on the “sin no more” part. Nor am I saying anything goes.

    (Accusing me of saying the exact opposite of what I just wrote a moment ago is insulting, infuriating, frustrating and condescending… But we already know we disagree on the definition of sin… or at least I already know that.)

    The Bible is not clear on what sin is. You think it is clear. It is you I am disagreeing with. (Whether you are right or wrong, I am clearly disagreeing with you.)

    But, you’ve just proven my point above. That you consider yourself infallible, and therefore fit to judge others as if you were God. Don’t you see the problem with that?

  • Christine

    Your prejudice is exposed by the fact that you assume I believe that “anything goes” solely because I’m gay.

  • I’m not infallible.

    The Bible states in MANY places that homosexuality is a sin.

    If you and others choose to believe that it is ok with God, that is your right.

    I’m stating what I believe, what the Bible says, and what Christianity has believed for 2,000 years.

    That’s all.

    Thanks, Christine.

  • Christine

    The concept of homosexuality only came into being in the 1800s.

    That’s one amazing bible you have there. What time-travelling translation are you using?

    To sum up, you believe exactly what the bible says all the time, and the bible says exactly what God says all the time – so you and the infinite creator of the universe agree on all points about everything all the time. And that’s not arrogant because…?

    (Oh, and btw, Christianity has not always everywhere thought the bible condemned gay sex – I suppose even God doesn’t know history because if God did, you would also know it instantly, because you and God are just that tight, apparently.)

  • I think this is one of the key values of fundamentalism: “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” Maybe even, “The Bible says it. That settles it.” There is no true dialog with a fundamentalist. It is all word games because, in the end, you aren’t talking with the fundamentalist, but the bible, and ultimately the one who “wrote” it… God. And you can’t dialog with God. Pseudo-dialog is played for a while until the wall is hit. And you always know when that wall is hit: “God said it. Not me. So deal with it.”

  • Christine

    And, you do realize you are doing exactly what the cartoon depicts, right?

  • Christine

    Can we define fundamentalism as believing you are akin to God – because I really don’t see any other way of looking at what’s being said here.

    Claiming an infallible interpretation of an infallible bible while denying any claim to infallibility.

    It should be enough to make someone’s brain explode.

  • This is a common sense issue as well.

    The Bible doesn’t say anything about heroin addiction, but we know that it too is sinful. It is poor stewardship of our body.

    Mankind could not survive if homosexuality flourishes. It’s a children’s issue, as well. Kids need a mother and a father, in the best case.

    We want to promote what is best for society.

    But, the Bible says cleary it is wrong, and a sin. The 1800’s…huh? Try reading the Bible. It is a bit older than the 1800’s.

    Wrong. I never said ANYONE is going to hell for it. Never in my life have I said that.

  • Christine

    Common sense is the one thing not present in this conversation!

    The species wouldn’t reproduce if we were all celibate either. Does that make celibacy a sin?

    Studies show that children of lesbian parents actually succeed in life more than children of straight parents. (And are you saying that single parents are sinning by not giving up their children?)

    But wait – you just said that gay people don’t have kids! So, how can it be bad for kids they don’t have??? (Gay people actually do have kids…)

    What would be best for society, by far, would be to acknowledge that gay relationships and gay families are a fact of life, are not going anywhere, are perfectly healthy, and therefore recognize them and give them the protections they need and deserve.

    Your translation of the Bible is NOT older than the 1800s if it uses the word “homosexuality”. Promise.

    I know you didn’t say it. That’s the point! That’s exactly what the cartoon is about! Sheesh…

  • I said a mom and a dad is best.

    I didn’t say gay people don’t have kids. And adopting won’t keep the population stable.

    You love to say I said this and that when i didn’t say it.

  • Enough said.

    I made my point. Not everyone agrees with the attitudes expressed by many people on this blog.

    I’m thankful that david allows dissent here. Many liberals don’t.

  • “I’m thankful that david allows dissent here. Many liberals don’t.”

    As one with enough time on her hands to frequent many blogs, I can assure you that conservative blogs that allow for dissent are much rarer than liberal ones (if we must follow the largely artificial conservative/liberal divide).

  • By the way, adoption is not the only means by which gay people have kids. Anyway, the last I checked overpopulation is far more of a global concern than underpopulation.

  • Christine

    (So, the mom and dad point has nothing to do with sin at all then? So, why did you bring it up?)

    Gay people have biological kids, too! That was my point. There’s more than one way to procreate.

    Besides which, the planet is grossly overpopulated.

    (What did I say you said that you didn’t say, exactly?)

    Steve, it seems like you are the one not allowing dissent. I asked what we do when people disagree. Your response was that there is no room for disagreement. How is that allowing dissent, exactly?

  • Tony Moore

    Good arguments Christine. However, if a person does not believe the entire Bible, (s)he has no reason to believe any of it. I don’t see how claiming an infallible interpretation is any more arrogant than claiming to know which ones to believe and which ones to disbelieve. By the way, the person who does believe the Bible believes that it IS a time-traveling book since its author invented time travel.

  • Tiggy

    Being proud of yourself and your life isn’t saying you’re perfect or that you’ve got it all sussed; it’s about standing up in defiance against those who condemn, judge and sneer. It’s about saying you and others like you matter and that the vulnerable and despised matter. Something we’ve learned from Jesus I think.

  • “Steve, it seems like you are the one not allowing dissent. I asked what we do when people disagree. Your response was that there is no room for disagreement. How is that allowing dissent, exactly?”

    You made that up, as well.

  • Til

    Ya just gotta love those fundies! hehe!

  • Seriously Steve, that wasn’t a word for word quote but it was very clearly what you said. Much more clear I might add than some of your “clear” interpretations of scripture.

  • Tiggy

    OMG, these people who say ‘It’s not me you’re disagreeing with, it’s God’. Unbelievable arrogance!

    Still a bit stunned to hear that time-travel conclusively exists. Did I miss that in the news?

    How did this thread get to be about people being gay? If that’s what the cartoon was about, it wasn’t obvious to me.

    Oh, and I’m damn sure I’d have been better off growing up with many gay parents than the heterosexual ones I had. If we’re going to start criticising people on the basis of inadequate parenting, then gender and sexuality isn’t the place to start.

  • Christine

    Wow, Tony. Glad to see you can read my mind.

    So, maybe I could state my actual position, then you can feel free to criticize it.

    First off, my view is that, even with an infallible original manuscript, interpretation of the bible’s take on gay sex is a difficult one. (Although I wouldn’t say the bible is generally easy to interpret on any subject.) Part of this has to do, from what I can see, with the fact that this is really not an issue that the biblical authors are trying to address, hence that lack of direct statements on the issue. Modern prejudices seeping into translations also seems to be a large stumbling block. There was a time when I believed quite strongly in an infallible, literal interpretation of the bible, without believing it condemned gay sex. So, in short, my first point is that you shouldn’t have assumed there were parts of the bible I didn’t believe in.

    Second, I’m not sure I agree that not believing part means having no reason to believe any of it at all. It depends on why you believe the bible in the first place, which is something most people don’t have an answer to. If you believe the bible as an historical account, for example, then there is good reason to think that some parts are more accurate than others. Even when it is taken as more than historical, tradition would instruct us that some parts are meant to be interpreted differently than others (such as literally vs metaphorically). Beside which, most theological viewpoints make a rather stark distinction between the sections that apply to Christians and those that do not. So, my second point is that it seems reasonable to believe in some parts but not others, or, more accurately, to believe in different parts differently or to different degrees.

    I actually didn’t claim I know which parts to believe and which not to (or how or how much of which parts to believe). That’s something that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to, and I honestly believe I’ll never really have the bible figured out (which I think seems all the more reasonable when you claim it holds the secrets of the universe – understanding it completely would then almost be omniscience).

    I’m not sure if time travel exists or not (physics is still out on whether it seems possible). But I’ll give you the point that God invented everything that is.

    But that doesn’t mean the books of the bible, as penned by the original authors, actually traveled through time. In fact, anyone with a literal infallible interpretation quite consistently claims that this is the original version, passed down unaltered for two millennium (i.e.: no time travel involved). If your point is simply to say that God could have included an idea that didn’t yet exist, well yes, of course, except there is no reference to homosexuality as we understand it today in the bible.

    (Beside which, had the concept been included in the bible, then it couldn’t have been first conceived of in the 1800s, because it would have already been in the bible! Get what I’m saying? Temporal paradox. Unless you mean to say that in the 1800s, God went back in time to insert the concept into bible when it hadn’t been there in the intervening years – which would actually go a fair ways in explaining the sudden shift in values at the time…)

    I’ll just finish by saying that I think, whatever your view of the bible, there has to be a role for judgement, reason and experience. If God invented everything, then that includes our minds – and I think we are meant to use them and to let our experiences, love and compassion influence that thinking. I think that’s what Jesus did and that that’s what he instructed us to do.

  • Christine

    Steve – So you are saying there is room for disagreement?

  • Christine

    Maybe, Tony, I could just also say that while admitting experience and judgement into the interpretation still leaves the door wide open for error, it also gives us useful criteria for judging better interpretations from worse. Will we always apply the right criteria in the right way? Of course not. But I think it gives us a better shot a getting closer to something good and holy and useful than always being ruled our gut instincts, first impressions and inherent biases, while blinding ourselves to those influences. Doing so only fools us into thinking an interpretation is “obvious” when it is anything but (as illustrated by the many competing “obvious” interpretations in existence).

  • james

    It is impossible to change dualistic belief systems and I think Jesus knew that. He didn’t ask for people to beleive in him but to follow him. His actions are the crux of the Chrisitan faith – although we may differ in how we understand the them.

    People use Sin all the time – what is it? I understand it as seperation- preventing us from wholeness. So jesus told the women to Sin no more – did this mean , respect yourself, love yourself, beleive in yourself. In reality she had no power to marry and divorce, it was all in the hands of men,so Jesus in his compassion encouraged her to have compassion towards herself.

    The goats and sheep story – has nothing to with belief but with doing… you will enter the kingdom of god if you feed the hungry etc , and if you treat the other as divine.

  • Sister Marie

    Following the end of the Civil War, many of the wounded veterans were drug addicts due to the wounds that they suffered and the insufferable pain. At that time they were not referred to as addicts but having “soldier’s disease.” I think that it is best not to be drawn into arguments about what does and does not constitute sin. Too many of us would erect barriers to exclude our own shortcomings rather than to rely on the One who looks upon the heart.

  • Erika Baker

    Isn’t the real question how we respond to people we consider to be sinners?
    Where in the bible does it say “thou shalt not associate with those you believe to be sinners”, “thou shalt tell them at every possible opportunity that they are sinners”, “thou shalt do what you can to deny them the same civil rights you have”?

    Where did Jesus ever exclude individuals from anyting even if he thought the did wrong? Where did he give us the right to do that?

    You’re all entitled to believe that my 2 women, 2 kids family goes against God’s wishes.
    You’re not entitled to treat me badly because of it.

    Those in the story of the woman taken in adultery understood that. They slunk away and left Jesus to do the judging.

  • james

    I don’t consider anyone to be a sinner!
    But all of us are Wounded, broken, hurt, in pain,struggling, finding life difficult, emotionally blind, narcissitic – in some way, and hence we are all the same!

  • Enjoyed the back and forth between Christine and Steve but wondering if anyone else thought of the context of the passage that this cartoon drew it’s inspiration from. Matthew 25:40 is one of my favorite passages and it is preceded by this sorting of goats/sheep. The “goats” are on the left not because they are homosexuals, heroin addicts or “sinners” in the way many “fundies” describe them but because,

    ” 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”

    I would add, I was a heroin addict and you judged me or I was a homosexual and you rejected me. This passage is not about “doing bad things”, it is about not loving one another.

    Sorry – did not miss the humor of the cartoon and did not expect to post something so heavy but since Steve invited us to look at the words of Jesus, I could not resist doing just that.

  • thanks wendy. that’s a great observation. true.

  • Christine

    Wendy – My thanks to you, too. That just about says it.

    Erika – Good points. I struggle with whether or not it matter whether we talk about whether homosexuality is a sin or not. (I’m having this conversation on another thread as well.) On the one hand, you are absolutely right, we should get the same treatment regardless, and once we do, who cares what anyone else thinks?

    On the other hand, it don’t know that it’s good for us to completely not care about what anyone else thinks. Even if we have completely equal rights, attitudes about homosexuality affect our experiences in society, particularly in religious communities.

    i think the difference comes when you want more than just equal treatment as an individual – you want equal acknowledgement, treatment and acceptance for your relationship and family. Something you’ve probably experienced yourself.

    But is that a fair expectation of people who have differing beliefs? (At the moment, I’m kinda on a kick about at least expecting people to educate themselves and be open to being wrong about it, but not much more.) Any thoughts?

  • Mack Enzian

    Christine —

    I recently watched a presentation on being wrong. The speaker suggested that we often have three reflexive responses to those who hold different beliefs than we do. First we describe them as ignorant. If that proves untrue, we describe them as idiotic. And if both prove untrue, then we imagine that they must be diabolical.

    I know from experience how quickly people who view me as an outcast move through the three rationalizations.

    Beyond that recognition, what was helpful for me was to reflect on the way _I_ use the first rationalization (ignorance). In the last two years, in part because I’m built to investigate and find it hard to empathize with those who aren’t built that way, I’ve caught myself assuming that all people need to do to see things my way is to read. To educate themselves. To be open to new information. To admit the possibility of error.

    I have painfully learned that my assumptions in this regard aren’t sound. There are a whole world of reasons why someone might not be aided by the information I’ve immersed myself in, and why they might insist on avoiding that information entirely, or the experiences that made the information meaningful for me.

    In those cases, I’m learning to allow others their path, regardless of whether they’re open or not. It’s not easy. And in some cases it has meant reshaping my relationships with some of those who’ve not been able to join me in respectful common ground.

    I’m wondering though, what you’ve noticed the outcomes are when you expect those who differ from you “to educate themselves and be open to being wrong about it.” How do they respond to your expectation of them?

  • Mack: The problem with this… and I wholeheartedly agree with you and try to achieve that on this blog… is that you want to play a game others don’t want to play. How do those who don’t want to play, or play that way, stay in relationship with you? That’s the problem. Thanks for your comment.

  • Christine

    Mack, in general, you are very likely right. On the whole, overall, I find that people coming to different conclusions than myself is very rarely a matter of ignorance (or idiocy or being diabolical).

    But, and let me be frank, on the issue of homosexuality, most people are desperately ignorant. Of those who are not, I don’t think I’ve met anyone yet (although I’m sure they exist) that was judgmental about it.

    This is probably true with most prejudices – that they stem from ignorance – but on homosexuality, you actually have a campaign to demonize and stereotype people. And it is something that people are often not exposed to. So, ignorance is the natural outcome.

    The questions I have gotten – on this blog and elsewhere… the complete lack of understanding… the completely shocking assumptions…

    But there are some, a good few, who, very respectfully, trotted down the road of trying to understand with me. Those people have yet to or may never change their minds. But I do have enormous respect for those who try with sincerity. That’s what I’m saying above: I’ve started to expect that earnest attempt to understand – but have remained not only civil but even good friends with those who are making the effort, whatever the result.

    If I met someone who thought homosexuality was a sin – yes, my first response would be to think them ignorant (with insecure or closeted also being options high on the list). But through discussion, I recognize I may find that they were on of the ones that made the effort to travel the road of understanding and it just didn’t change anything for them (like when the people I’ve been talking to me other gay people years from now). And, as long as the basic respect it there – the stuff that should exist regardless – then we’d work it out.

    The problem is the ignorance, and not just the ignorance, but the willful desire to not know or to reinforce lies and stereotypes. I do expect better than that of people.

  • Erika Baker

    Of course I care about what people think. I care because like everyone, I like to be accepted. I care because I don’t want my children to be bullied at school (happily, they aren’t), I care because only once a sufficient number of people agrees that I am a moral being just like they are will there be the possibility of absolutely equal civil and religious rights.

    But I accept that there will always be those who will consider me to be a vile sinner. Just like there will always be racists, mysoginists, people who hate children or old people or disabled people, people who don’t like my politics etc.

    Of these I demand that they live quietly with their dislike and their belief that I’m a sinner.
    I love them as little as they love me. Let us then just stay out of each other’s way if we cannot walk together, but let us not actively fight each other.

    My absolutley favourite traditional is a wonderful priest who believes that God does not approve of same sex relationships, yet who does not judge and who walked his own daughter down the aisle to marry another woman, and who adores the grandchild that came out of that relationship.
    He is the most shining example of how we should treat each other in love even if we struggle with some aspects of it.

    There’s a trajectory of awareness. In some countries, it is considered appropriate to execute gay people because of the belief that God hates homosexuality. In the West, we tend to be more enlightened and “only” deny them civil rights.
    We would consider it to be barbaric to kill people just because they’re gay, but we believe we can expect them to live quietly undergound, celibate, not bother us, not claim to be like us, not to demand equal treatment.

    I want that attitude to become as unacceptable as official, state sanctioned murder of gay people.
    You don’t have to “agree” with homosexuality, you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to do it.
    But you have to become aware that what determines your own moral status is how you express that disapproval.

    At the end, it’s my own sin I’m to be concerned with, not that of others.

  • A quick search on Google comes up with this very enlightening definition…

    Glirking: The act of smirking while someone is glaring at you, or to smirk and glare at someone at the same time.

    Actually – this passage of scripture (about the goats and sheep) has been one of my favourites when Christians start to get all hung up on how important it is to have the right beliefs – and forget to actually do anything about them. It’s interesting how Jesus said nothing about what they believed, whether they said the sinners prayer, or any of those other “important” things… It’s all about how they treated “the other person”.

  • i agree rainer

  • Mack Enzian

    David, I like how you put that: “you want to play a game others don’t want to play.” That’s precisely it. I think it’s like Alan Watts once said: you can’t make games mandatory, because if you do, the participants are no longer playing. They’re working. Which is fine if work is what you were going for… but play is spontaneous, not coerced.

    And in my experience the healing part of relationships comes out of the play that participants join in together. Voluntarily. Not under compulsion or out of fear of loss. I’ve seen a lot of dysfunction resulting from fear. So I try not to add to it… I think that’s my responsibility in the situation.

    I can’t guarantee that they’ll never slip back into the control freakery that has worked for them in the past. But I can monitor my own responses. And shortcut the trigger/reaction circuit that makes controlling strategies what they go for first. I’ve had to learn what’s mine to govern and what’s theirs. My expectations are directly related to my disappointments.

  • Mack Enzian

    Christine — I totally understand; I’m living the experiences you describe, where different people in my network are at very different places, some choosing not to crack a book, others refusing to hear my accounts of myself or my peers. But I can’t push them along. I’ve decided not to run away to a remote village in Brazil. I haven’t changed any of my contact information. I just don’t engage when they start the rants and continue to live as best as I can discern I should. My baseline conclusion is that perhaps they weren’t created to be progressives but I’m sure they weren’t created to be rude.

    I haven’t banished anyone (yet? lol). We still have limited relationship, limited in scope because they are not open to large swathes of my life and because I’m not interested in arguments. I’ve had to set some boundaries as far as religious manipulation and gossip — I’m not accommodating of either, and I give my reasons to them why not… and we make a little progress, and regress, and advance a little more over time. How far they go is not up to me. If it were to happen that my mother could never make the jump, I would still be thankful for her gifts to me. And I would still be responsible for my responses to her and for seeking out the unconditional spaces that I need to be healthy.

    Our families of origins, and in some cases our churches of origins, can’t always provide what we need. Letting them off that hook doesn’t sentence them to stay where they are or us to receive abuse without end, but it can help reduce their reflexive responding to our expectations. Times when I’m not hooked into someone’s expectations for me are times when I can be more deeply creative about which patterns I will choose.